Part 5b : Iwashita Collection
The Iwashita Collection is a private collection by mister Iwashita located in Yufu, Kyushu. This collection features many kinds of rare stuff and has different subjects. For instance when you enter the museum, you’re most likely to gaze upon a glass stained window that is hanging up to the left. Mister Iwashita proudly announces this was a gift from the royal family of Princess Diana, UK. Just beneath the piece of art is a massive wooden bar. It is the bar from the Royal Hotel (UK) that burned down but they managed to save this unique piece of craftsmanship and bring it all the way over to Japan.
After meeting the owner, his wife and Jeff (USA) we get a guided tour in the museum. Jeff translates for me and Miyo (Ducati Japan) helps along. I can’t believe all the precious stuff that is kept in this museum. Iwashita sure knows what to like and buy.
Eventually we get to the upper part of the building where the motorcycles are (jippie ? ) and I’m just stunned. More than 300 motorcycles are just grinning and waiting there for me. I feel like a kid in a candy store! Iwashita used to have an entire room dedicated to Honda but since his favourite actor died the Honda exhibition had to move to the attic too. Hence it is a bit crowded and the motorcycles are just stacked together. I don’t know where to look first and often make little screeches when I find some rare motorcycle. They all seem to find it funny and I’m just having the best time at a museum ever.
The earthquake this summer has sadly damaged a few motorcycles when they tipped over. I’m gutted to see some of the dents and bruises beyond repair on some of them. Luckily there was one motorcycle in this museum that is very well kept : a one and only unique piece of Ducati History. The Ducati Apollo.
Named after the lunar projects the Berliner 1260 Apollo was a prototype to tackle on the market as a replacement for police motorcycles and big touring bike for street riding. Ducati made only two of these machines, designed by Fabio Taglione conformed to the US police specifications but had to be bigger than any Harley-Davidson model at the time. He went for a V4-engine with an astonishing 1260cc of lung capacity!
During history only one of these two survived and it is here in Yufu. When Iwashita was visiting the USA many years ago, he got contacted by someone stating he had something very interesting for a motorcycle collector. The Apollo had been tucked away in this garage for years, no one knew about his survival. Iwashita shipped it to Italy to get it restored in perfect state by Ducati and then brought it back to Japan. The Ducati company has tried to get it back to Italy many times but since Iwashita is keeping it in his collection the Only remaining Ducati Berliner 1260 Apollo is silently awaiting his return to Italy.